Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Season Goodness

It's that time of year again. And we're all getting ready with our wish lists and special requests. I've compiled some references just in case you're looking for suggestions ;)

But this post is not about gifts; it's about festive delicacies. I can see your eyes lit just now. I know, I hear you!

A friend of mine just asked me for a recipe the other day, and it instantly brought me back to our Christmas days (so thank you C. for inspiring this post).


When I was single, we would usually spend Christmas Eve at home, basking in good company, good food and good wine. Sometimes with a little touch of love, we'd turn wine into Sangria. Then, the next day we'd have Christmas lunch with my grand-parents in the North, followed by some visits to relatives and friends.

Since hubby made an honest woman out of me, I've never compromised on Christmas Eve. Not that he minds, his family celebrates on the 25th anyway. But to me, my brother and my sister, Christmas is really that 24th's evening when we have good food, good laughs and put on crazy plays to distribute silly fake gifts we carefully select as jokes.

Then, we usually have lunch at hubby's parents the next day. That's super important to his dad, because it's one of the times when the entire family gathers under his roof and care. Last year, we've had to change that tradition, because Mia was only 26 days old and we weren't about to take her out in the middle of winter. So hubby's family came to our place, which was also very nice.

But as you can see, it's all about dinners, lunches, meals and it seems celebrating Christmas implies really a lot of cooking! Well that's obviously not the only reason for celebrating, or the real spirits of the holidays. However, when people gather in love, they usually enjoy doing so around food. And that's a wonderful opportunity to share, care and give time to your loved ones.

Since we leave the turkey for Christmas lunch, on the 24th we often have Cheese Fondue and a Chocolate fountain or fondant. Should I really comment on that? Nah. Self-flattering foods don't need my accolades. Instead, I'll drop a couple of recipes you way. That will be more useful for everyone ;)

I found an easy Cheese Fondue recipe on the net, which I think would make anyone happy. Take the time to check the entire site, it's worth it. They have a zillion recipes just for fondues!



  • 2 Garlic cloves cut i half
  • 250ml (1 cup) of dry white wine
  • 225g Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 225g Emmental cheese, shredded
  • 15ml (1tbsp) Lemon juice
  • 15ml (1tbsp) Cornstarch
  • 30ml (2tbsp) Kirsch
  • 2ml (1/2tbsp) Nutmeg
  • 2ml (1/2tbsp) Paprika
1. Rub the garlic inside the fondue pot then discard.

You should have a little more wine and cheese on hand to adjust the consistency if needed. Add more cheese if it's too liquid, add more wine if it's too thick.

2. Pour the white wine and lemon juice into the pot and turn on the burner.

3. Let the wine and lemon juice warm up without boiling.

4. Reduce heat and add the shredded cheese.

5. With a wooden spoon, mix well and stir regularly.

6. Dilute the cornstarch in the Kirsch, and add remaining ingredients to the pot.

7. Add pepper to taste.

8. If the mixture is too hard, add wine. If the mixture is too soft, add cheese.

9. Dip bite size pieces of bread or vegetables.

10. Let the freshly dipped pieces cool off for a few seconds, then enjoy and repeat but no double-dipping!

Note: Italian or French bread (baguette) makes excellent dippers when cut into small pieces. You can also try mild green or red peppers, zucchini slices, steamed broccoli or cauliflower or whatever else you're in the mood for.

Tip: If you ask your guests to make a figure 8 while dipping, this will ensure that the cheese mixture gets constantly stirred.


And now, for a super-easy dessert which does not require a fountain ;)


  • Good-quality chocolate tablets for pastries
  • Large strawberries

I usually work with melted chocolate by instinct. I really couldn't tell how many grams of chocolate you would need for a certain amount of strawberries. I usually keep tablets of dark chocolate in my kitchen, ready to be melted any time we crave some chocolaty home-made sweetness like light chocolate mousse or fruit salad with melted chocolate sauce.

With chocolate strawberries, you can either work with dark chocolate or mix it up a little with some milk but also white chocolate. The method remains the same for all three. I personally only go for dark chocolate when fruits are involved, but why not widen your guests' options by offering three kinds?

Most important tip before you start: wash your strawberries and let them dry well. You don't want to be dipping wet strawberries in your hot chocolate sauce. Also keep the leaves, they'll give a nice green touch to the fruit, and will be useful when you want to dip them. Make sure your strawberries are large enough to allow for half-chocolate-covered, half-red delicacies. They'll look much nicer!

Also have  a baking tray ready, with baking paper.


To melt your chocolate bars, you'll need to make a Bain-Marie. You could also cheat a little and do it in the micro-wave.

Just break your bar into small pieces and place them in a bowl which can sustain heat. Boil water in a pan on high heat, then reduce to low and place your bowl with the chocolate pieces on top of the boiling water. Stir until the sauce is smooth and start dipping the strawberries one at a time. Make sure you only immerse one third or half of the strawberry in the chocolate. Place them on the tray and refrigerate until the chocolate hardens.

If you opt for a micro-wave melt, make sure you check on your chocolate at all times. It should not make bubbles. Just place the bowl in the micro-wave and heat for half a minute. Take out and stir. Then repeat until the chocolate sauce is smooth.

In any case, always check on your dipping bowl while you're working, and make sure you reheat and stir when necessary.

Finally, and because if you're going to have cheese, chocolate and fruits, then you must have wine; here's an easy Sangria recipe just for you:

Sangria by Rouba Abouzeid


  • 2 bottles of red wine 
  • 1 and 1/2 cup of vodka 
  • 1 and 1/2 cup of rum 
  • 1/2 cup of sugar 
  • 1 cup of orange juice 
  • 1 can of 7up lemon (or regular 7up) - The 7up can be replaced by bubbly wine or champagne which would definitely boost the taste; also, if instead of using red wine you opt for a rosé, then use bubbly rosé
  • 2 peaches 
  • 2 lemons 
  • 2 limes 
  • 4 oranges 
  • 2 apples (peeled) 
  • 6 strawberries (cut in half) 

If you feel you need more fruits (because the ones you have are small or you feel the mix has too much liquid and not enough fruits for all your guests) feel free to add more pieces of course.

This recipe too is very instinctive to me and I don't have stiff rules about quantities.

Just cut the fruits into big enough cubes so that they can absorb the wine mixture. Refrigerate over night and serve cold.

Sangria by Rouba Abouzeid

Enjoy! ;)

Mamma Mia

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  1. Yes, Chanty, I can't help but agree ;) lol

    And I've seen some yummy posts on your blog as well ;) I guess 'tis the season to be hungry ;) lol

    Readers, swing by Le Blog De Chanty you won't be disappointed ;)